Casting News + Scoop! [Oct 19-24] Of cats and Japanese men; Of Japanese girls and why they never die; Spotlight on Kanata Hongo’s latest project!

Our casting news begins with a closer look at Yu Aoi’s latest film – Haruko Azumi Is Missing –  アズミ・ハルコは行方不明 – now also known as “Japanese Girls Never Die.” While it would be a fantastic news to hear that Yu Aoi gets nominated for Best Actress for the upcoming Japan Academy Prize, her recent win at TAMA (for the movie Over the Fence) is more than enough as a celebration of her talent. 

Don Brown described Aoi’s performance in his regular post at The Asahi Shimbun:

(Yu) Aoi totally owns her difficult role, which at times hews very close to manic pixie dream girl and hysterical bipolar stereotypes. The actress excels at making Satoshi believable and sympathetic through the sheer force of her commitment and charisma. Less detail is offered regarding her traumatic background than Shiraiwa’s, but Odagiri is just as comfortable in his character’s skin, puncturing his smirking inscrutability with sudden flashes of jaded and wounded intensity. [ source ]

There was never any doubt about Aoi’s charisma when it comes to an analysis (or simply an observation) of her on-screen persona. Take the case of her performances in Hula Girls, Shining Boy and Little Randy, The Lightning Tree,  or her more recent works in Tokyo Family, Penance, and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends.

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In the new film, here’s the storyline:

Haruko Azumi (Yu Aoi) is a 28-years-old woman. She is a single and works at an office. One day, she suddenly disappears on a typical street with retail stores lined up. After her disappearance, her missing person poster is spread across the city.

Aoi is joined by Mitsuki Takahata, herself a promising dramatic actress, and Taiga and Shono Hayama. I mentioned this a couple of times already, I find her romantic pairing with Satoshi Tsumabuki to be perfect. Though I’d love to watch her with just about anyone – Joe Odagiri, Masaki Okada, Mirai Moriyama, anyone – is fine with me!

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Can you imagine Kanata Hongo giving advice to the broken hearted? That’s what he’ll do in Love Concierge. I think that it’s about time he’s given a different role (and the main part at that!). After supporting roles in Attack on Titan and the upcoming Fullmetal Alchemist, his fans are expecting that the spotlight is fully on him alone. [ I know, he grabbed the lead in Akagi, and it was a hypnotic performance, to say the least! ]

The new drama produced by Fuji TV will have Kanata play Ueno. Otaku USA posted the live-action news previously:

Based on a love hotel employee’s Twitter account, Hakase and Ueno’s Love Concierge manga will soon be getting the live-action treatment. The announcement comes on the wraparound band on the manga’s fourth volume, the cover of which has love hotel employee and star Ueno declaring that he will only let a handsome actor portray him. [ source ]

If you’ve followed his acting career from the beginning like me, then you’ll agree how much scope he’s covered already. Kanata was that pugnacious, self-confident tennis player  Ryoma Echizen in The Prince of Tennis and Joichiro Nishi, the ‘middle-school veteran of the Gantz world’ and he’s also Itsuki Kamiyama in Goth, the movie that can only be described as equally dark and amusing (for lack of a better word).


The Neko Samurai movie series is both humorous and telling according to fans. Of course, I have to agree with the ‘telling’ side since anything about old Japan is fascinating to watch. On the humorous side, I’m equally if not more convinced to agree – imagine a cat surviving an assassination!

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Mark Mohan wrote a piece at The Oregonian and described one of the movies in the series:

“Neko Samurai” is the adorable tale of a disgraced samurai who’s hired by a clan of dog-lovers to kill the feline pet of their cat-loving enemies. Of course, our hero can’t bring himself to do the deed, so he ends up faking it and hiding out with his cute would-be victim, an experience that teaches him many things, not least of which: He’s a cat person. [ read more ]

Grabbing a major role in the latest installment of the series is Takuro Ohno. The actor’s previous projects include Hanamoyu, Black Butler, and Toto Nee-Chan: Fatherly Sister. I’m not familiar with him, but I’m looking forward to what he can contribute to the Neko Samurai saga.

 

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